Setting the Stage: My Interview with Annette Joseph

By on May 12, 2015

Annette Joseph

I recently participated in a Staples tweetchat called #MakeMoreHappen. It was hosted by Annette Joseph, entrepreneur extraordinaire, cookbook author, and lifestyle expert. She had dozens of smart, practical tips for consumers and business owners alike on how to make a great impression on your audience (e.g. party guests, customers, visitors to your store) using Staples Copy & Print posters, banners, invitations and more. After the tweetchat, I had a chance to talk more with Annette about her impressive career.

Brian Moran: How did you start as an entrepreneur?

Annette Joseph: I always wanted to be a curator. I studied fine art in college, and worked in the display department at The Limited while going to school. After college, I stayed with The Limited and worked in visual merchandising. I was a window dresser and loved my job there!

When I moved to Atlanta with my husband, I worked for Davison’s Department store which was bought by Macy’s. After 2 years at Macy’s I started a business with a partner called The Consultants, a store planning company for specialty stores. We had a varied client list everything from jewelry to furniture and children’s clothing stores.

Moran: You are what I call a passionate entrepreneur. You find something you love to do and figure out how to make money doing it. What happened to your visual merchandising business?

Annette Joseph: Yes! That is a very accurate description. I have always enjoyed the different adventures on my entrepreneurial journey.

After a few years, I sold my half of the store planning business to my partner. I was approached by a photographer I worked with in my business to work in his studio as an assistant photo stylist. In his photo studio I learned how to be a photo-stylist by setting up various photo shoots. I styled everything from products fashion and food and editorial lifestyle. I loved working in the studio and on location all over the country I learned so much.

The process was evolutionary. I worked in the studio for 3 years, and then went out on my own. I worked on product photoshoots, and lifestyle shoots with national magazine. I found I loved styling food, so I went to some professional course at the Culinary Institute of America in NY and Napa Valley, CA. to learn more about how to style food. I have styled many food shoots and cookbooks over the years.

Today, I am a photo-stylist that specializes in lifestyle and food as well as a cookbook author. One of the best gigs was working on my own cookbook.

Moran: Would you describe yourself as an artist?

Annette Joseph: No, I am a marketing person at my core. I understand people and what they want. The photo shoots and visual merchandising are channels to help people highlight and showcase the things they are passionate about.

In October, 2013, I took the next step in my journey and published a book titled Picture Perfect Parties Rizzoli NY; it was a culmination of my years of hard work and experience. I wrote it for people who love to entertain and want to be organized and at ease entertaining. The book shows people how to entertain like a stylist does. The book gives readers all the tools to be successful.

Moran: What advice do you have for retail business owners today?

Annette Joseph: Create an environment that is inviting. Pay attention to details, and plan for your success. Otherwise, why do it? These are your clients, partners, vendors and prospects. Make them feel at home and welcome. Have them walk away saying “Wow! That was fun. That was a great experience.”

Make your retail location a place that people LOVE to visit. People will associate you with your brand. They are coming to see you! The same is true with your employees. Customers should know them on a first-name basis.

Think of your customers when designing your retail location. Think of your employees when designing your office location. Recognition is so important.

That’s why I was excited to team up with Staples Copy & Print service to showcase how small businesses can really create a big impression on a budget. Find ways to make it special. On my blog you’ll find a couple of great ideas – a BBQ customer appreciation party (using Staples Copy & Print banners) or a spring lemonade thank you party. Staples Copy & Print also allows you to make customized thank you gifts – such as journals – that are great as promotional items.

BBQ   Lemonade Party

Moran: How has Social Media played a role in helping to grow your company?

Annette Joseph: I joined Twitter in 2009 having no idea how it worked. One of the first people I met on Twitter was a woman from Marrakesh. We became very good Twitter friends and finally made the connection in real life last year when I held a styling and photography workshop at her hotel.

Social media has been such a tremendous help for me and my business. I’ve connected with photographers, and people interested in my workshops. I have formed personal relationships and real connections on Instagram and Facebook. I really enjoy meeting bloggers and working with them, sometimes I pitch them for magazine features.

Moran: What’s the next chapter in your storied career?

Annette Joseph: This summer I will be in Italy running a styling and photography workshop. This is my passion now. I want to work in beautiful locations while mentoring people who are equally as passionate about photography and photo styling. I want to do these for the next 10-20 years.

I’m also writing my next book; an Aperitivo book. It’s all about the Italian tradition of cocktail hour. I hope to have it done by Christmas, 2016. For this book, I will shoot and style all the photographs with my husband.

Moran: Any final thoughts for entrepreneurs reading this post?

Annette Joseph: If you don’t love what you do, you will never succeed. The road is too tough for people who are only motivated by success. My business has seen a lot of ups and downs. I’ve had to reinvent myself several times in order to stay on my path of entrepreneurship. Be passionate about your business and life every day and success will find its way to your doorstep.

About Brian Moran

Prior to rejoining the world of entrepreneurship, Brian was the Executive Director of Sales Development at the Wall Street Journal where he oversaw the sales development and marketing programs for the financial and small business categories among the many Journal brands. From 2002-2010, Brian was President of Veracle Media and Moran Media Group.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *